Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

Scripture to the devices of a powerful and malicious being, the prince of fallen angels, the enemy of God and man, and the author of evil. It was the devil who tempted our first parents into sin, and no sooner had they sinned, than they became subject to his dominion. And such continues to be the wretched lot of their degenerate descendants; they are under the rule of Satan ; they are in bondage to the power of darkness. In their natural ignorance, and sinfulness, they are the willing subjects of the god of this world, who hath blinded the minds of them which believe not." They walk according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” “ Ye are of your father the devil,” said Jesus to the unbelieving Jews, “and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it."*

Nor is the power and work of the great adversary of souls restricted to unregenerate men. He is described as the tempter, tormentor,

and * John viii, 44 Comp. Matt. xiii, 38, 39. 1 John iii, 8, 10.

unwearied foe, even of the children of God, “ Be sober, be vigilant,” said Peter to the “ elect” though“ scattered” church," because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." “ Put on the whole armour of God," says another apostle to a community of Christian converts, "that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” On other occasions, Paul declares that it was the devil who hindered his services in the gospel, and that the thorn in his flesh, by which he was so sorely afflicted, was the messenger

of Satan to buffet him" - tes. timonies which agree with the doctrine of the apostle John, who describes the same restless being as the author of persecution, and as the “ accuser” of the brethren, which accused them before God, day and night.”

I am well aware that some persons who make a profession of Christianity, are prone to set aside these plain scriptural declarations, and

[ocr errors]

pretend to believe that Satan is a mere figure of poetry, and has no personal existence.

But I consider it impossible for any one to take a broad, impartial view of the state of mankind to visit in his mind the habitations of cruelty, and the obscene haunts of an abominable idolatry - without arriving at a strong conviction that our degraded species is not only prone to wickedness, but exposed to the power of some deceitful and malignant being. When we direct our thoughts in succession, to Asia, with her hundreds of millions of idolaters ; to Africa, with her population sunk in night, and with the atrocities of her slave trade; to America, where man is in chains, and those chains are riveted and justified by the two nations upon earth most conspicuous for their love of liberty ; to Europe, where the professed disciples of a religion of peace have been engaged, for a long course of centuries, in mutual carnage - we are compelled to confess that man, corrupt in himself, has fallen an easy prey to the tyranny of the devil.

The declarations of the Bible on this awful and affecting subject, coincide with the dictates of common sense, exact observation, and

long-continued experience. And the notion which appears to have been entertained by men of all ages and countries, of the existence of such an adversary, is in itself no trifling evidence that these declarations are true.

With respect to awakened Christian believers, these will generally be prepared to confess, that they have experienced the influence of an evil Power who plays upon their own treacherous hearts — the enemy without, practising on the traitor within. They well know that there is one who tempts them to unbelief and sin, harasses them with doubts, torments them with accusations, and at times suggests ideas to their minds, which they are utterly ashamed of harbouring, and which they can trace to no other origin. Such is the work of Satan, as it is described by the sacred writers ! Such is his work as it is familiar to individual experience!

Now by what means a being who doubtless was created holy, lost his first estate, and became not only wicked himself, but the author of evil in this lower world, the Scriptures do not reveal ; and it were worse than idle for us to conjecture. Neither is it possible for us to fathom the purposes for which God has seen

meet to permit this worst of enemies to prevail for a season over men, and to bring them under bondage to sin. For our present argument it suffices, that the doctrines of the Bible on these mournful topics — doctrines which that book alone has fully unfolded to mankind with experience, and are confirmed by fact.

agree

SECTION IV.

ON REPENTANCE AND MEDIATION.

The sentiments which men entertain on the subject of repentance are ever found to be deep and extensive, exactly in proportion to the depth and extent of their views of sin ; just as our estimate of recovery from a disease, is commensurate with our notion of the virulence and danger of the disease itself. Certain it is, however, that as the Scriptures alone reveal the true character of sin and the universal sinfulness of mankind, so it is only in the Bible, that we find an adequate account of the nature and use of repentance, and a call to repent, extend

« ÎnapoiContinuați »